While the Premier League is currently shrouded in uncertainty, one thing remains constant – Manchester City wins football matches.
With the COVID-19 outbreak hitting other clubs and forcing multiple postponements, Pep Guardiola’s side managed to get away largely unscathed, allowing them to quietly begin a in these races can break their title rivals.
Sunday’s 4-0 win over Newcastle was City’s eighth game, and was inevitable since Ruben Dias was awarded a free six-yard header in the fifth minute.
This is not Man City at its best or even close to it – there were a few stray moments, sloppy passes and poor challenges that could have been punished another day – but in the end it’s still a match to be won on autopilot.
Man City are so well trained that they know what to do wherever they find themselves on the pitch, and perhaps no player has demonstrated more footballing intelligence in the ranks of Man City right now than Joao. Cancelo.
The Portuguese full-back spent most of the season playing at left-back, but switched to the right wing at St. James’ Park due to Kyle Walker’s absence, and yet another great performance.
Only a nominal defender, Cancelo feels comfortable wherever he finds himself, whether it’s attacking high at right-back or defending deep at left-back.
His standout moment on Sunday came from a central position, making two weak tackles before scoring in a furious attack from 25 yards.
It was his third goal of the season in all competitions, following his seventh assist, most recently when he swam from Kevin De Bruyne’s pass through Kevin De’s. Bruyne eventually went to Dias to open the scoring.
Full-backs have become an integral part of successful teams in the modern game, especially in Guardiola’s greats such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Man City.
However, Cancelo is the first defender to be directly involved in 10 goals in a single season under the Catalan since David Alaba achieved the feat for Bayern in 2013-14.
Such a return puts him firmly on the list of the most dangerous attacking full-backs in the league, alongside Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Chelsea’s Reece James.
According to statistics in the period 2021-22, Alexander-Arnold leads with 2 goals and 10 assists, while James has 5 goals and 6 assists, but Cancelo possesses technical ability. His technique probably sets him apart from his competitors.
Delivering his delicious floating pass to find Gabriel Jesus in City’s fourth game against Newcastle, Cancelo’s ball knocked several defenders before Jesus blocked Raheem Sterling to make the touch.
Such a moment may not make the statistical impact it deserves, but it will be appreciated by his teammates and manager.
Alexander-Arnold’s controlled crosses are some of the deadliest in the league, while James features dynamics directly into his game, but it remains questionable whether they pose a threat not if asked to switch wings because Cancelo was forced to do both. this season and last.
Meanwhile, the ex-Juventus player’s out-footed passes from central areas can penetrate the defence, although he remains comfortable in high and wide positions as City look to stretch. opponent when launching an attack.
And so while Cancelo was one of the more quiet men on the pitch when City played, he was starting to make a big splash as the champions moved menacingly through gears to spend Christmas at number 1 again.